On the morning after the election of October 19th Mike Schouten of WeNeedaLAW.ca and André Schutten, Mark Penninga, and Colin Postma of the Association for Reformed Political Action sat down for a panel discussion with Lighthouse News host Al Siebring to discuss the implications of the 2015 Canadian election results. You can find the audio of that discussion here. “ARPA’s mission is to bring a biblical perspective to our civil government, and we have now been given an incredible responsibility and opportunity to do that for a government that, in many respects, will be unaware of a Christian and principled perspective on key issues of significance such as freedom, faith, and family,” explained ARPA Executive Director Mark Penninga. The majority Liberal government is going to have a big impact on some of the issues that ARPA Canada and the broader Christian community have been working on. One of ARPA Canada’s concerns following this election is the impact on the Carter euthanasia decision. “This will come down to strategy now,” continued legal counsel André Schutten.
(A print version of this article, suitable for churches is attached below) The recent euthanasia decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in Carterv. Canada hangs its shadow over Election 2015. The results of this election will have a substantial impact on the direction Canada takes and the extent to which euthanasia and assisted suicide is challenged, curtailed, or even celebrated. In February 2015, the court struck down Canada’s laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia and gave Parliament 12 months to act. No new legislation has been introduced yet. The new Parliament will have to act quickly or Canada will be left with an enormous hole in its Criminal Code and vulnerable lives will be at risk.
ARPA Note: The following article was submitted by a reader in response to a previous article on ARPA's site. We welcome other readers to submit articles for consideration but reserve the right to decide what to publish. A recently posted article, titled “Gambling at the Ballot Box”, offered a brief critique of what is perceived to be the attitude of many Christians when it comes time to vote in a federal election. The article begins with the important reminder that our vote is both a privilege and a responsibility, an assertion I agree with. Arguing that many Christians treat an election as if it is a “gambling game”, the article criticized some pragmatic voting practices, such as avoiding hopeless campaigns and supporting those who have the best chance at defeating a dangerous candidate. Instead, it encouraged a vote “cast in accordance with our beliefs”, implying that these positions are often incompatible. This response will argue that they are not. As stated, the right to vote is indeed a responsibility; but that must be explained. What, precisely, is the vote of a Christian responsible for? Without a stated goal, we encounter a myriad of conflicting objectives. Do we stand in line to ease our conscience? To cast a vote for candidates that agree with the greatest possible number of policies we support? Do we fixate on one issue that we care about and support it to the exclusion of all others? Or do we vote for a result that will see our values most accurately reflected in Parliament? The answer to this question will determine which name ends up on our ballot, and they do not all arrive at the same conclusion.
(A print version of this article, suitable for churches is attached below) The introduction of abortion legislation is one promise the major political parties will not be making in the lead up to the October 19th election. It may seem like a political victory for the pro-life movement in Canada is not forthcoming. It is as though God has withheld his favour on the labours of those striving for laws protecting our pre-born neighbours. Will we ever succeed? Would it not be better to simply acknowledge that any effort to implement legislative change is futile? Maybe we should just focus on sharing the gospel and effect change that way. The temptation to simply concede the status quo may be strong, but it is wrong and contrary to a Biblical understanding of the purpose of government. God restrains the evil of abortion by various means, including the government. Government is sent “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14). The Bible is full of examples, both in the Old and New Testaments, of God’s people having influence on secular governments. Joseph, Daniel, Esther and Paul come to mind immediately. Regarding abortion and the Biblical teaching that all human beings are created in the image of God and have equal status before Him, perhaps it is easiest to point to Exodus 20 and the sixth commandment “You shall not kill”. The Scriptures are clear: the unjust killing of a human being is never met with the approval of a holy God. That said, the unjust killing of an innocent child is viewed with particular disdain. Consider Jeremiah 7: “The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord….They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire – something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.” The creator God could not even fathom such a thing! The killing of innocent children is something God detests and (in human terms) did not anticipate human beings were even capable of doing!
On June 18th, the House of Commons adjourned, setting the stage for an election campaign that will end the 41st session of Parliament. This is an appropriate time to look back on the past four years and see what was accomplished, especially through the lens of ARPA Canada and the issues that we focus on. Pre-born Human Rights: When the Conservatives were handed a majority in the last federal election, many Christians hoped that pre-born human rights would finally be addressed. These hopes were in vain. Although some courageous MPs stood up for the pre-born, the leadership of all the political parties in the House of Commons did their utmost to suppress these efforts. Motion 312, championed by MP Stephen Woodworth, was the first motion that held promise. It asked that “a special committee of the House of Commons be appointed and directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth.” Local ARPA chapters hosted presentations by Mr. Woodworth on this motion and many ARPA supporters encouraged MPs to support it. But with the party leaders all vocally opposed, the motion died in the House by a vote of 203 to 91. Yet Motion 312 reignited a discussion that was quiet for too long. Momentum for addressing this injustice was building.
If we really think about it, the vote that we may cast on October 19 is extraordinary. We have been given a say in who will rule this country and by what principles it will be ruled. The power of your vote is no less than anyone else's, not even the Prime Minister's. Throughout history, much blood was spilled so that citizens could have a voice in government. And in many other countries, elections are corrupted with intimidation and dishonesty. We are sure blessed to be able to contribute in such a meaningful way to the government of Canada. It is both a great privilege and a great responsibility to be able to vote. But judging from the dismal voter turnout and the attitude towards elections, it sure does not seem that Canadians see our vote as a privilege and responsibility. What do I mean? Canadians, including many Christians, treat their vote as if it is a gambling game. We try to calculate the direction that this country or riding is going in and then we cast our vote pragmatically, if at all. "It would be a wasted vote if I voted for him or her," or "I’ll put my vote behind the candidate who will most likely beat the party that I despise" are just two examples of a much more common phenomenon.